Letters to the editor 

Staff and the Natural Step?

With respect to the recent article in the Pique regarding the wider stalls for SUVs being proposed by our local planning department I must say I’m somewhat bewildered. Quite simply, have we not committed ourselves, officially council and staff alike, to the effort of moving toward sustainability as defined by the Natural Step Framework? Is it not in the protocol of that effort to ask ourselves each time we consider a new policy if the proposed change works towards or away from sustainability as defined by the four system conditions?

Bigger stalls equal bigger parking lots which result in more impervious surfaces and therefore more degraded habitat. Doesn’t rule number three, have something to do with the supposition that we are not working towards sustainability if we are systematically impoverishing nature’s functions by physical displacement? Bigger parking areas and more pavement is physical displacement of the natural habitat and its function. So tested against condition 3 this seems to be a bad decision, simple.

Furthermore, condition 1 suggests that we are not moving in the direction of sustainability if nature’s function and diversity are systematically subjected to increasing concentrations of substances extracted from the earth’s crust. Fossil fuels come from the earth’s crust and the bigger vehicles intended to be accommodated by these proposed bigger stalls use a heck of a lot more of it. Therefore the move to bigger stalls facilitates the ease of use of these more polluting vehicles. With the stroke of the same pen this bylaw would purposefully and systematically move our community in the wrong direction with respect to conditions both 1 and 3.

It seems important to me that this is an attempt to change an existing bylaw into a new one that is less sustainable, i.e. in this case, the more sustainable course is to do nothing. It leads one to wonder what staff believes is to be gained by making this change? I have put forward arguments as to what the potential losses are, (degraded habitat, more pollution, and contradiction of the municipality’s commitment to the Natural Step) but what, if anything, would we as a community stand to gain? Would people not come to the resort for fear of the ever-too-narrow parking stalls? Are locals or visitors ringing the phone off the hook at the Hall reaming staff ears off about the difficulty they’re having parking their new Ford Expeditions? Really, what’s the point?

If staff are serious about the Natural Step and the transition to a more sustainable resort then claiming that because other communities have bigger parking stalls we should have them as well simply isn’t enough. If our rhetoric about sustainability, the Natural Step, or our transportation strategy is supposed to make real and measurable changes for the good of this community and its environs, and we are indeed the innovative leaders that we have been back-slapping ourselves about lately, then this one is a no-brainer.

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